Enchanted Ground

In a hidden corner of America, this remote grove of bristlecone pines takes my breath away. At the timberline, some ancient trees still hold onto life while others have transformed into surreal shapes, worn away for centuries. Through the lens, slightly removed, I observe this process: weathered rock provided the trees with life and, as it receded from roots, took that life away.

Although I had photographed the White Mountains of California before, it was not until finding this one secluded place that I realized how the strange beauty of the trees is inseparable from the landscape. Here, snags and stones are as remarkable as the panoramic view unfolding in every direction. Over the ages, trees and rock acquire the same golden tones. Bristlecone pines are among the oldest living things on earth, with a lifespan over 4000 years. Because their wood is so hard they don’t decay, but rather erode along with the stone from which they sprouted. My images reflect on the scientist’s question and the artist’s question, which are the same: What does it mean to have this perspective on time?

Treading on enchanted ground is an old phrase meaning pleasure in the context of some sort of private beauty. The irony is that what I feel as privileged access to this location is available to all on public land.


Edition of 25 prints of each image: Twenty at 17 x 22 inches (43 x 56 cm) + five at 24 x 34 inches (61 x 86 cm). 2007–2011

A print-on-demand book is available from MagCloud.com at: www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/371349